Contributed by Robert Fagerlund
What is Gender Jam, you ask? It is a regular meeting group to provide a nonjudgmental, supportive, not scary forum to discuss and share on gender issues, social sexual roles and expectations, women’s issues, men’s issues, LGBTQ issues, straight issues, and any other related topics. There will be no agenda, no predetermined topic or issue. Conversation will arise from whatever attendees wish to talk about. This will be open to everyone in the community. Attendees participation in sharing or commenting is not required. No one will ever be “put on the spot” or made to feel uncomfortable about speaking or about not speaking.
The first Gender Jam will be on Tuesday, March 13 from 7:00–9:00p. Come on and check it out! Gender Jam is free. Donations to the Interfaith Center will be accepted.
To get the conversation started, here is a message from Rob Fagerlund, the creator of the group:
Feminism is the best thing that ever happened to men.
Why do I say that? One thing feminism set in motion (and I mean long ago, at least as far back Susan B. Anthony and the other nineteenth century feminists who fought for women’s rights) is a challenge to destructive and oppressive gender roles and expectations for everyone.
And no, the feminist struggle is far from over. But that’s not really my focus here. I would like to make a few observations about feminism and men.
Feminist thought is not a unified body of thought. It is better than that. It is a living, breathing group of writers and thinkers and activists who are talking and listening and reading and writing and learning and growing and working and campaigning. They do not always agree with each another. But they are ostensibly all working for a better world.
This is good news for women, of course, but for men as well.
Here are some thoughts I’ve had about feminism – and feminists – and about why it’s in men’s best interests to be feminists.
We don’t have to agree with all of them. With so many voices in feminism today, so many often conflicting ideas, it makes sense that we can turn our back to some, even though it helps if we know why we’re doing that. Listen a while first before you turn away.
We don’t have to give up who we are, as sexual beings. The sexual aspect of our being is ok. What’s not ok, and what we should work against, is abuse, aggression, coercion, harassment, rape, and stuff like that. But male sexuality is, in itself, not a bad thing.
We don’t have to give up our fire. Our world needs our anger, our indignation and moral outrage, and our passionate and vigorous efforts on the part of others, especially those unlike ourselves. That means we should actively support women and people in the women’s movement, the LGBTQ community, people of color and more. So much more.
Being a sensitive guy doesn’t mean you’ve lost your pair, if you’ll forgive the vulgar euphemism. Within us is Mr. Fire as well as Mr. Sensitive. It’s the mindful synthesis of these two Divine aspects that makes us real men.
And yeah, we still get to like the Three Stooges. Nyuk nyuk nyuk.
We guys should man up [I hate that phrase] to our fears, acknowledge them, own them, and realize they say something about us, not about women, and certainly not about masculinity or femininity.
So yeah, feminism is the best thing that ever happened to men.
In closing, I have seen so many men who seem withdrawn, angry, bitter, mean, grouchy, unkind, and even cruel. I know from personal experience how much work it takes to keep up that stoic unfeeling exterior.
No wonder men die earlier than women. Men lead in mental illness, suicide, violent crime, murder and early death.
Now our life can be as limitless and purposeful as our imagination.
We can express sorrow and grief unfettered, without shame or embarrassment, and we can have joy without limit.
We can have deep and meaningful relationships not only with all kinds of people – but with ourselves, too.